Researchers from the Smithsonian Institution recently discovered a new goby fish that is unlike any of its relatives. It was found during the institution’s Deep Reef Observation Program (DROP) in the southern Caribbean.
In addition to differing in size and color, the new goby also lives in a very different habitat: deep water. It was found between 70 and 80 meters below the surface with the help of the Curasub submersible that DROP used.
“This is the fourth new deep-reef fish species described in two years from Curasub diving off Curacao,” Dr. Carole Baldwin explained in a news release. “Many more new deep-reef fish species have already been discovered and await description, and even more await discovery.”
Caribbean coral reefs are well studied down to the depths accessible by conventional scuba gear, but below that much is still unknown. The Curasub can reach depths of 300 meters, which is allowing scientists to study the lesser known parts of Caribbean reefs.
“Deep reefs are diverse ecosystems in tropical seas that science has largely missed,” Baldwin explained. “Too deep to access using SCUBA gear and too shallow to be of much interest to deep-diving submersibles capable of descending thousands of meters.”
DROP is helping researchers learn more about the upper and lower limits of many Caribbean species. This information could be useful as researchers attempt to predict how fish with react to warming oceans. If the surface waters get too warm, will fish be able to just swim a little deeper to find cooler water? We don’t know yet.
“By thoroughly investigating reef ecosystems that lie just below shallow coral reefs, describing new species, documenting depth ranges of new and known species, we are providing the baseline information necessary to detect changes in the future,” Baldwin said.
To learn more:
- Read more about DROP: Exploring Deep Reef Ecosystems in a Submersible.
- Read the Pensoft news release: A fish too deep for science.
- Read the full study: A new, mesophotic Coryphopterus goby from the southern Caribbean, with comments on relationships and depth distributions within the genus.
Copyright © 2015 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.